Student tells inside story

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 06:48 22/07/2013
Youth parliament

Parliamentary process: The youth press cover the Youth Parliament Programme in Wellington last week.

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Two days in Wellington covering the Youth Parliament Programme was a "fantastic experience" for an aspiring political journalist from Marlborough.

Hannah Craighead, 18, was one of 20 junior journalists from around the country chosen to cover the programme, where 120 youth MPs got a taste of the parliamentary process in New Zealand.

The Marlborough Girls' College student was tasked with following the activities of seven youth MPs from Nelson, Christchurch and Westport.

Although the programme was "full on", it was a "fantastic experience", Hannah said.

"It gave me a really good insight, not only about journalism or how political journalism is different, but also about politics and how Parliament works."

After a powhiri on Tuesday morning she had a chance to mingle with the junior MPs, before sitting in on a select committee.

The junior press contingent met a range of political journalists, including TV3's Patrick Gower, Fairfax Media's Andrea Vance and Jessica Mutch from TVNZ.

"Probably the most interesting part was when we spoke to a panel of journalists from all the different news outlets. They talked about the ethics of journalism, constraints of reporting and how social media has become such a big part of the news now; it was really interesting."

She also covered the Youth MPs in action, including a question and answer session with Education Minister Hekia Parata and Business, Innovation and Employment Minister Stephen Joyce.

"They didn't get flustered initially because all the questions were pre-prepared, but they were hounded by the MPs when the Speaker opened it up for impromptu questions," she said.

The MPs "stirred things up a bit" when about 90 per cent of them walked out in protest during a speech about anti-gay marriage.

The young press enthusiast also did a one-on-one interview with Patrick Gerard, who was Green MP Stefan Browning's youth MP.

Patrick is a boarder at Nelson College and grew up on his parents' sheep and beef farm in Pelorus Sound.

The young MP said it was an amazing opportunity to get an inside look into Parliament.

He was particularly pleased to have spoken against the mock electoral reform bill, which was comfortably voted out, with 85 per cent of MPs against it, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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